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Archive for 'Tech' Category

Today, scandalous celebrity photos. Tomorrow, your financial records?

Published 9/11/14

Today, scandalous celebrity photos. Tomorrow, your financial records? By Justin Boyle

Can you believe it? If Jennifer Lawrence, Rhianna and other A-listers are vulnerable to major thefts of information like the high-profile leak perpetrated in August, wouldn't it be just as easy to swipe personal data from all of us regular people?

For anyone who uses online savings accounts or personal finance apps, the news that's come out since the attack has a twofold upshot: The bad news is that your data might be insecure, but the good news is that you can take steps to guard your account info against would-be attackers.

How it happens

Authorities initially pointed to Apple's cloud hosting service, iCloud, as the source of the vulnerability, but those accusations have since been dismissed as simplistic. Apple, for one, has avowed that none of the cases of data breach they'd seen were the result of iCloud being compromised.

Apple spokespeople report that the victims' accounts were most likely accessed using their actual usernames and passwords, rather than through a "back door" into the iCloud backup server. If that's the case, then the stolen data was mainly vulnerable because of poor security on the user side.

In other words, you can likely protect yourself better than the victims here. Here's how to do it.

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Change in your pocket: Will Coin replace credit cards?

Published 1/14/14

Change in your pocket: Will Coin replace credit cards? By Justin Boyle

Late in 2013, the gadget-oriented segment of the personal finance community started rumbling about a new toy that could bring novelty and an extra measure of convenience to the world of credit cards. It's called Coin, and buzz abounds.

But the ever-present question of start-up tech remains: Will Coin deliver on the jazzed-up promises of its hype machine? Does the problem of carrying too many credit cards even need another high-tech solution? Let's take a look at the details.

How Coin works

Coin is the size and shape of a standard credit card, but there's more going on than meets the eye. Using a special smartphone attachment, you can swipe and store your credit cards, debit cards, membership cards, retail loyalty cards, gift cards, you name it. If it uses a standard magnetic strip system to identify itself, Coin can use it.

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Isis Mobile Wallet: Worthy of the hype?

Published 12/14/12

Isis Mobile Wallet: Worthy of the hype? By Justin Boyle

If you live in Austin, Texas, like I do, you've seen it plastered all over town. Austin is one of two U.S. cities -- along with Salt Lake City, Utah -- that have been chosen for the pilot roll-out of the Isis Mobile Wallet. Isis is yet another brand name to enter the mobile payments frenzy, and it promises to "transform your buying experience."

By now, MBB readers are as familiar with mobile payment apps as anyone. These apps aim to link your credit card accounts together in a single smartphone application, with the stated purpose of saving you the monumental hassle of handing your card over to a cashier and, later, physically signing a small slip of paper.

It's natural to wonder if the Isis Mobile Wallet has got anything going for it other than an aggressive marketing campaign. Does it offer anything that the existing stable of mobile payment apps doesn't already offer? We've done the homework so you don't have to.

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Perks and pitfalls of the electronic wallet

Published 8/31/12

Perks and pitfalls of the electronic wallet By Justin Boyle

I still carry cash. Most people I know look at the paper folding stuff I pull out at the coffee counter and barely recognize it. Back in the late '90s, when primitive electronic devices like debit cards were becoming more popular, a good friend of mine told me that paper money would be obsolete in less than 10 years.

He was wrong, it turns out, but maybe only in the length of time he gave it. With the recent release of Google's cloud-based online wallet, cash might be more in danger than ever of a complete electronic takeover ...

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Will your smartphone make your credit card obsolete?

Published 4/30/12  (Modified 6/8/12)

Will your smartphone make your credit card obsolete? By Justin Boyle

I remember 2004. Smartphones were barely recognizable by today's standards. They had physical keyboards, tiny, non-touch screens and the newfound capability to send and receive email. Things have changed a lot in eight years.

Looking back on those days, it's easy to notice how many parts of formerly everyday life have vanished thanks to leaps and bounds of advancement in smartphone technology...

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Smartphone or computer: Which is safer for credit card payments?

Published 12/20/11

Smartphone or computer: Which is safer for credit card payments? By Megg Mueller

Ho Ho Holy cow, have I been shopping online lately. I shop locally every chance I can, but there are some Internet shopping sites that offer such great deals. Throw in free shipping, and my credit cards and keyboard have been getting a workout. As an avid Web consumer, I have been reading with great interest the stories about online security issues, mobile payment glitches and the scariest words to an online shopper like myself: identity theft.

People still worry about typing their credit card numbers into the shopping cart forms. Clearly I don't, but according to a Javelin Strategy & Research Consumer study done in September of this year, many people still aren't comfortable when it comes time to hit the "place order" button...

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